Arizonans pay their respects to McCain at Thursday's memorial services

Farewell to a maverick

PHOENIX, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The silence outside the North Phoenix Baptist Church spoke volumes on Thursday.

Among hundreds of people watching, the probability of hearing a pin d rop would have been very likely.

Many didn't have a ticket to make it through the doors of the church for the emotional ceremony.

What those people felt from outside the walls, nonetheless, the same.

"I didn't want to miss the chance, the last minute to say goodbye to my Senator that I admire the most," explained Shirley Primrose. She's a Phoenix resident, whose daughter went to school and graduated with Meghan McCain. "I'm just so proud to have a Senator like McCain. The United States and all over the world -- they admire him."

Those same feelings were shared by so many. Some who showed up for the ceremony took the time to reflect on memories with the man, like Conrad and Gine Flury. They met John McCain a couple of years ago at an Arizona Diamondbacks game.

"Everyone who went up to him -- he acknowledged. He absolutely did not object to the interruptions. It was just very special," Gine Flury told Tucson News Now. She and her husband said that unforgettable moment defined for them what they already knew about McCain's character. "Everything he did was for the people, not just for Arizona, but for everyone. He just was a fantastic man."

Politicians and businessmen alike shared their sentiments on the late senator. Former Vice President Joe Biden agreed, John McCain had character. The emotional songs and speeches drew more of a crowd as time went on.

Francis Cabrera was at her home in Phoenix when the ceremony started. She watched it from her television until she knew that wouldn't be enough. "I just felt compelled to come here. He was a very good man in a time when we need very good people."

A shame, she said, that cancer took him from us too soon. "A lot of people in office now could learn from Mr. McCain. He was a very decent man and he'll be missed."

Those inside the ceremony felt incredibly lucky and privileged to be inside as they shared tears and laughs with those who knew and loved McCain best.

"I wish I had really gotten to know John McCain. We've always followed him ever since we came to Arizona 25 years ago, and I just admire that man so much," said Jim Vickers, who was inside during the memorial.

This was the last chance Arizonans had to say goodbye to Senator McCain at home, as his body departed to Washington, D.C. shortly after the service.

He will lie in state at the Capitol building in D.C. on Friday before being laid to rest on Sunday.

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